Last week, I applied for a grant to attend the National Curriculum Conference in Philadelphia this summer.  If I get approved, there is the possibility that I will  come back and share what I learned with my colleagues. I have taught many workshops throughout my career, but a few really stick out in my memory.  

I remember one year I was asked to do a presentation for the local school board. On the particular night I was scheduled to present, the board room was packed because a lot of parents wanted to speak publicly about an issue. Since this happened about twenty years ago, I can't remember what the issue was. What I do remember is how hard I studied the material for my presentation. I practiced in front of the mirror for days beforehand trying to build my confidence up and to ensure that I was well versed on the subject matter. I wanted to be ready to address any questions  from the board or the audience once I got up there in front of everyone.

That night, I remember looking around and seeing  that the room was packed with people. There was not an empty chair to be seen and people lined the sides of the room. I  looked around and was terrified that I would get so nervous that I might throw up. What if I got up there and had to go to the bathroom in the middle of the presentation???

When it was my turn to present, I took a deep breath., and wondered what everyone would do if I just ran out of the room. It was overwhelming seeing all those people staring intently at me. I remember thinking that I could never be a preacher. My confidence built once  my presentation got underway. I thought to myself that I was really going to pull this off...until I saw a man in the front row tilting his head at a near ninety degree angle. I looked back at the screen where my overhead was projected to the room and saw that I had put it on upside down. In fact, the entire ten  overheads I had been talking about before that one had all been displayed upside down. I gasped in horror, fixed it, and continued with my presentation, trying to pretend that nothing happened.  When I finished, the superintendent and the board thanked me and I made my exit. 

I cried all the way home, berating myself for not having turned around to look at my overheads. The next day, who should come to see me but the Superintendent himself. He told me that what was important to him was that I was passionate about what I spoke about and that I had tried my best. He emphasized that we all learn through experience and that he wanted me to know that he was proud of me. My school system covered 800 square miles and had around 90 schools. He didn't have to make the effort to come and talk to me, but he did and it made such an impression on me.  If that man had asked me to run a 5k race that day,  I would have done it. I never forgot his kindness. 

Is there someone in your life that has made a big impression on you?

36 comments

  1. Mommy Rubz // April 13, 2010 at 9:30 PM  

    Thanks for following me. I am following you back too!!

    It's me Mommy Rubz

  2. Debbie // April 13, 2010 at 10:11 PM  

    I could not ever do public speaking. Funny too because people think I can, they think I can be on reality TV , well that maybe I can do. But to actually present and talk about something serious....what struck me odd, is why did not someone come and whisper to you early on? Like fix your overhead....well you did, and the Super coming to you personally was awesome, and worth it in the end:) Hey I see my button, Thanks:)

  3. Bits-n-Pieces // April 13, 2010 at 11:13 PM  

    I wrote just the other day about a person who made a big impact on my life...my high school French teacher. She was one of those you either loved or hated. I loved her. She saw something in me that I didn't..or that just needed public recognition. And like I mentioned in my entry on her..to know now that she was a decade younger than I am right now....WOW. That just blows my mind. Her memory is ever present with me.

  4. Ms. Anthropy // April 14, 2010 at 12:27 AM  

    You made me nervous just reading about YOUR public speaking.

  5. RosieP // April 14, 2010 at 2:35 AM  

    I would hate to do that. Love reading your post though.

    Have a great day

    Hugs RosieP x

  6. Theresa Milstein // April 14, 2010 at 5:47 AM  

    Someone should've pointed that out immediately! This reminds me of the spinach in between your teeth. (Spinach, right?) Besides, I'm sure the words were the important part.

    Public speaking teaching vs. public speaking to large groups are two different things entirely. People always expect teachers will be comfortable in all sorts of situations. Not true. I guess it's like actors who insist that they're really shy.

  7. Beth in NC // April 14, 2010 at 8:27 AM  

    You poor thing! I would have felt the same way! YIKES!!!

    Thanks for visiting me. I'm going to follow you. I hope you'll visit me often.

    Have a super blessed day!
    Beth

  8. Choices // April 14, 2010 at 8:52 AM  

    Lesson learned, always look at your teeth before presenting. lol
    I get so nervous when I have to speak before adults, but when I am in the classroom with a group of children I can be serious or silly with no signs of nervousness.
    Have a wonderful day.

  9. Mom et al // April 14, 2010 at 9:01 AM  

    That is a great story! I am petrified of public speaking. When I was in highschool I took AP English and it allowed me three credits towards my college English requirement. Naturally, I substituted it for Speech 101. Once I hit the real world I have always regret that I did that. I think it's wonderful that you were brave enough to stick it through, and that you had the support that you needed.

  10. Kelly L // April 14, 2010 at 11:45 AM  

    Great post! It is amazing how we feel when someone goes out of their way to say something nice... especially when it is so unexpected.. This how I believe our children grow by praising them in the little things and continue to encourage...
    Love love love your mind.
    Kelly

  11. Genny // April 14, 2010 at 12:10 PM  

    I'm so glad it turned out okay! Presentations are always a little nerve wracking! I'm presenting at a conference in a week and a half and I just finished my slides. Now I'm feeling like I need to practice!

    Have a great day,
    Genny

  12. Brenda // April 14, 2010 at 4:36 PM  

    I've had to do a few presentations in front of smaller groups and I never got any better at it. I think you have to be born to be a speaker just as you do to be a teacher. :-)

  13. Adrienne // April 14, 2010 at 8:52 PM  

    My high school counselor ....she was a family friend but she never let me falter when I wanted to choose the wrong path because of my home life

  14. VKT // April 14, 2010 at 9:30 PM  

    Delighted to do so Mommy Rubz!

  15. Personalized Sketches and Sentiments // April 14, 2010 at 9:30 PM  

    I agree with the superintendent that your passion for what you were speaking about far exceeded any technical difficulties.

    You asked if there was someone in my life that left a big impression on me. As you know a little about the challenge of a childhood cancer that our family faced with our son when he was 14yrs old...his positve out look, cheerfulness and full faith in the Lord during when he was going through the chemo, definitely impacted my life. As well as all those that supported us during that time.

    Blessings & Aloha!

  16. VKT // April 14, 2010 at 9:31 PM  

    Debbie,

    That was the very first one I taught. I have taught many many more since then and I don't blink an eye....but that first experience.....

  17. VKT // April 14, 2010 at 9:33 PM  

    Bits,

    That is such a lovely tribute to her. I am sure she never forgot you either!! You did a great job in front of the camera btw!!!

  18. VKT // April 14, 2010 at 9:34 PM  

    Mrs. A,

    You are such a hoot my blogging bud. I wish you lived nearby. I had my book group tonight and I KNOW they would love your sense of humor as much as I do.

  19. VKT // April 14, 2010 at 9:35 PM  

    Thanks Rosie,

    Speaking of Rosie, I got roses from my students today...along with some other flowers.

  20. VKT // April 14, 2010 at 9:36 PM  

    Theresa,

    I learned to be comfortable. That was the first one I did and I remember thinking I would never be able to do that again. I have done so many now, I actually enjoy it. Its amazing what we can do when we force ourselves out of our comfort zone.

  21. VKT // April 14, 2010 at 9:37 PM  

    Thanks Beth, and blessings to you as well dear lady!

  22. VKT // April 14, 2010 at 9:41 PM  

    Anne,

    Good point...lol. I love teaching workshops now but I had to learn to love it. You are right about being with children though. I love being in the classroom and seeing them get excited about learning.

  23. VKT // April 14, 2010 at 9:42 PM  

    Mom,

    Its always wonderful to have someone let you know that they believe in you and support you, isn't it.

  24. VKT // April 14, 2010 at 9:43 PM  

    Kelly,

    Little children are like flower buds beginning to bloom into a beautiful flower. I love getting to watch them blossom!!! Thanks for your comment.

  25. VKT // April 14, 2010 at 9:45 PM  

    Genny,

    I have no doubt you have your material down pat. That was the first big presentation I ever had to do. Do you remember yours?

  26. VKT // April 14, 2010 at 9:46 PM  

    I don't know Brenda, I was definitely not born to be a speaker but now I love teaching workshops. But then, I learned how to put together a good presentation over the last twenty years....so sometimes practice helps.

  27. VKT // April 14, 2010 at 9:48 PM  

    Adrienne,

    How very special to have her care for you!!! I am glad she had such a positive impact on you.

  28. VKT // April 14, 2010 at 9:50 PM  

    Personalized,

    Thank you so much for sharing that comment. I can imagine he impacted others around him as much as he impacted his family. What a precious testimony he is!

  29. Brenda Susan // April 14, 2010 at 10:02 PM  

    Aack! I cannot believe no one said anything about the overheads being upside down! it is their fault not yours!
    The kindness of your Superintendent was so wonderful! I love how it truly is the small kindnesses that impact us the most!

  30. VKT // April 15, 2010 at 7:47 AM  

    That is so true Brenda Susan. A kind gesture goes a long way. It surely made an impression on me that day!!!

  31. H // April 16, 2010 at 6:31 AM  

    Well done you for carrying on! Definitely the mark of a professional! I agree about your superintendant. Obviously a good leader.

  32. VKT // April 16, 2010 at 8:52 AM  

    Thanks H! I appreciate the kind comment!

  33. Lady Hill // April 17, 2010 at 12:00 AM  

    what lovely flowers!
    Thanks for the comment, I'm now following and would love for you to follow back :-)

    http://fromlazytolady.blogspot.com

    and if you'd just like a good chuckle now and then I literally JUST started a blog tonight...

    http://itsnotatuber.blogspot.com

  34. VKT // April 17, 2010 at 12:06 AM  

    Happy to do so Lady Hill!

  35. Marla // April 17, 2010 at 11:22 AM  

    What a great story. The learning and winning is often in the trying.

  36. VKT // April 17, 2010 at 8:49 PM  

    Good point Marla! We all certainly learn by doing!